Olympic dispatches: Sochi paving way for grand plan

The Grand Prix racing circuit is coming to Russia in October, although the Sochi track is under construction, much like the start of the Winter Games.
eric gaillard/reuters
The Grand Prix racing circuit is coming to Russia in October, although the Sochi track is under construction, much like the start of the Winter Games.

So what do you do with an Olympic park once the Games are over?

One answer, for the moment, is hidden under a thin layer of asphalt that circumnavigates the park. Sochi planners intend for that road to become a vital part of the effort to draw people to the Black Sea long after the Olympic torch is snuffed out.

It’s a Grand Prix track, and it represents Russia’s latest — and best — effort to reenter the famed race circuit after a 100-year absence. (Plans to hold a race in Moscow or St. Petersburg have fallen through over the years.)


Russian Grand Prix signed a deal with Formula 1 guru Bernie Ecclestone in 2010, and is scheduled to host the fabled race once a year for the next seven years.

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The first race is set for Oct. 12, which raises an entirely valid question, given the somewhat incomplete preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games.

Will it be ready on time?

Clearly, the Russian Grand Prix press service was expecting me to ask that one, because the official answer was that at the moment the work is 91 percent complete.

So what’s the 9 percent?


“All that’s left to do is scrape off the top layer of asphalt on the track and put down a new layer, finish the stadium and pave the start of the race,” said a spokesperson who asked not to be identified.

Hmmm. To the untrained eye, there’s a lot of bare concrete and dirt and junk all over the place, so I wonder . . . ah, forget it. The Olympics happened, right? These guys will probably carry it off.

And besides. By then all the hotel rooms that were missing this time will be built.




Lord Stanley arrives


Lord Stanley is receiving a warm welcome in Sochi.

The Stanley Cup made an appearance at the Olympics on Monday, making several stops around Olympic Park, including the USA House and Canada House.

‘‘It’s yours — for an hour,’’ Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut told the packed house.

Dozens of people lined up to pose for pictures with it. Some put their arms around the Cup, which is awarded to the NHL’s champion each year and is one of the most revered trophies in all of professional sports, as if it was a friend.

Some stood off to the side, perhaps in awe, as their picture was taken next to it.

Jade Agosta, whose sister, Meghan, is a star for the Canadian Olympic hockey team, was one of the many people who kissed the Cup.

‘‘That was pretty cool,’’ she said.



Seeing the light

The Olympic rings will be whole again for the Closing Ceremony. That’s a promise.

Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak tells R-Sport that fans will not see a repeat of the glitch that marred the Opening Ceremony, when one of the five rings did not form from a snowflake floating in the sky.

‘‘We will correct this mistake at the Closing Ceremony,’’ Kozak said.

The glitch happened early, when snowflakes expanded to form the interlocking rings, which is one of the most anticipated moments of any Olympic opener. Four of the rings unfolded perfectly, but the fifth remained a snowflake before organizers sent them out of sight.

The mistake was a shaky start to an otherwise well-received show. that ended with hockey great Vladimir Tretiak and figure skating icon Irina Rodnina lighting the Olympic flame

The Closing Ceremony is Sunday.



Dog days

Gus Kenworthy’s party back in Colorado to celebrate his silver medal in men’s slopestyle skiing is going to have to wait.

He’s still waiting for Russia to let the dogs out. No, seriously.

The 22-year-old who lives in Telluride, Colo., was scheduled to return home from Sochi on Monday, nearly a week after Kenworthy was part of a historic sweep by the US as slopestyle skiing made its Olympic debut.

Yet Kenworthy’s medal in some ways took a backseat to his decision to adopt four puppies — along with their mother — he discovered near the media center at the base of the mountain that houses the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

Kenworthy wasn’t kidding. He is taking all five dogs back to the US with him, but getting the paperwork done is taking some time.

A US skiing official says Kenworthy had to push back his plans so the dogs can join him for the long trip halfway across the world back home.

The reaction to Kenworthy’s decision to adopt the family has gotten perhaps more attention than the medal he claimed alongside gold medalist Joss Christensen and bronze medalist Nick Goepper.

Pop star Miley Cyrus tweeted at Kenworthy on Sunday, saying there were ‘‘4 reasons to follow @guskenworthy’’ while forwarding a picture of Kenworthy playing with his new pooches.